Blake Petty, Executive Director
Blake Petty is the Executive Director of the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship. Petty received his bachelor’s from Texas A&M in ’98 and his master’s in 2000. After graduating from A&M, he worked in administrative positions at the university and Texas A&M System, including a 10-year stint in the Office of Technology Commercialization.
Most recently, Petty served as assistant vice president of Research and coordinated all Innovation, Industry Relations and Business Development initiatives at Texas A&M. He also facilitated commercialization and entrepreneurship opportunities for the campus and its faculty researchers. In addition, he served as a founding partner in the launch of Startup Aggieland.
Michael Howard, Academic Director, Associate Professor
Michael Howard is the Academic Director of the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship and an Associate Professor at Mays Business School. He received his Ph.D. in Technology Entrepreneurship and Strategic Management from the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington. He completed an MBA with a concentration in Finance and a bachelor’s degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering, both from the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign.
His industry experience includes eight years in corporate finance with Intel as a senior finance manager in the Desktop Products Group, managing product cost forecasts and financial strategy for Intel’s long-term microprocessor product roadmap. His research interests include technology and innovation management, organizational genealogy, entrepreneurship, and social network analysis. His work has been accepted for publication in the Academy of Management Journal, Strategic Management Journal, Organization Science, Journal of Business Venturing, Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, Journal of Management Studies, and Social Networks.
Don Lewis, Executive Professor, Director, Blackstone LaunchPad
Don Lewis has been an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Management at Mays Business School since 1999. Lewis is general partner and major shareholder in several real estate businesses. He received his BBA (Management) ’86 and MBA (IT) ’92 from Texas A&M and Texas A&M International University, respectively.
Prior to his academic career, Lewis spent several years in Europe and then in Bryan College Station working as an entrepreneur. He is the recipient of the Student Led Award for Teaching Excellence, International Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholarship, Newman 10 award for one of the 10 fastest-growing businesses in Bryan College Station and is involved in a number of service roles in the local community. Lewis is married and has two children, Megan and Kylan. His areas of interest include issues in entrepreneurial and small business education and international business.
Shanna Spencer, Assistant Director
Shanna Spencer is the Assistant Director for the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship. She joined the center in 2013 as a Program Coordinator and was promoted to Program Manager in 2015. Shanna’s responsibilities include the planning and implementation of many of the Center’s programs and events, as well as developing new programs to meet the needs of our entrepreneurial students. She has also served as a Teaching Assistant with the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps Program.
Shanna graduated with her BS in Kinesiology from Texas A&M in 2003. After graduation, she worked as a marketing coordinator for Conference USA in Irving. She returned to Texas A&M and earned her MS in Kinesiology in 2007. As a graduate student, Shanna worked for Texas A&M Sports Properties, and continued in a full time role as the promotions coordinator upon graduation.
LauraLee Hughes, Assistant Director, New Ventures
LauraLee Hughes serves as Assistant Director, New Ventures for the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship. Prior to joining the Center, she served as Executive Director for the Office of Technology Translation at the Texas A&M Division of Research and at the Texas A&M Health Science Center, where she led efforts related to technology commercialization and product development, including management of the university’s IP portfolio for health, life and physical sciences. Previously, LauraLee worked at the Texas A&M University System Office of Strategic Initiatives as a key technical and project manager for multiple research and development initiatives related to biodefense and medical countermeasure development. Representative projects include the National Center for Therapeutics Manufacturing, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Blue Angel Program, and the Texas A&M Center for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing.
She has co-authored proposals that have resulted in over $380M in State and federal funding. LauraLee is a graduate of Texas A&M, where she earned her Bachelor of Science with a double major in Biochemistry and Genetics, a Master of Biotechnology, and a Graduate Certificate in Business. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for multiple early-stage TAMHSC startup companies and is a graduate of the Leadership Texas Class of 2014.
Kathy Miller, Business Coordinator
Kathy serves as the Business Coordinator for the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship. She joined the team in 2017 and is responsible for managing the center’s business operations, accounts payable, and assists in developing related processes and procedures.
Before joining Mays Business School, Kathy spent 20 years working in business operations for a state agency in Austin, Texas.
Stephanie Burns, Communications Coordinator
Stephanie Burns is the Communications Coordinator for the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship. In this role, Stephanie is responsible for marketing, social media, web design and other duties related to The McFerrin Center’s communications strategy.
Stephanie has had the pleasure of working at Texas A&M University since graduating from the University in 2014 with a BA in English Literature and a minor in French. She currently serves as a leadership coach for the Maroon and White fellows program. Stephanie is passionate about social media analytics, brand strategy, and inbound marketing.
Sophia Bishop, Program Coordinator, Blackstone LaunchPad
Sophia Bishop serves as the program coordinator for Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars, a program of the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship. In this role, she ensure the terms of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation grant are met and that Texas A&M entrepreneurship initiatives are communicated to our Aggie stakeholders. Sophia works to organize and develop programs that will grow the entrepreneurial mindset of Aggies across campus and in the community.
Sophia earned her BBA in Business Honors and Marketing from Texas A&M in December 2016. As an undergraduate, Sophia was on the student planning team for the Blackstone LaunchPad Program, Startup Aggieland, and numerous marketing student organizations. She currently serves as an adviser for the Student Business Owners Association, a new student organization started by students from multiple McFerrin Center programs.